Welsch Sisters Run Into History at Cameron Park
Kaytlynn is youngest winner of an XTERRA 21K; Heather takes third
The XTERRA Cameron Park Trail Run was truly a race for the ages last weekend.
Kaytlynn Welsch of Alvin, Texas, made history by winning the female division of the 21-kilometer race at Cameron Park in Waco, Texas, on August 18. Kaytlynn, who turned 12 in June, became the youngest runner to win an XTERRA half-marathon trail run.
She placed an amazing 11th overall (meaning only 10 men beat her), and finished with a time of 1:39:31.
"She's been running for a couple of years now, so she's got some experience in these longer races - she's even done a couple of (road) marathons," said her father, Rodney. "But she's just a natural, I guess. From her first race, people were telling us how fast she is."
(Kaytlynn Welsch photo courtesy Welsch family)
The course at Cameron Park is considered a challenging one, and it includes a section of steep stairs called "Jacob's Ladder." Kaytlynn kept pace the entire course, even when she had to, literally, climb up the stairs on her hands and knees.
"Those stairs were about as tall as she is," her father said. "But she's a real strong and determined runner. She doesn't give up. She just keeps going."
Apparently, it runs in the family. Heather Welsch - who is only 10 - placed third overall in the female division with a time of 1:46:06. "Kaytlynn got into running first, and once she did, her sister followed," Rodney said.
Sandwiched in between them was Claudia Spooner, who placed second with a time of 1:41:36. Spooner, 42, is an elite triathlete and trail runner.
It is not the first time that the Welsch sisters have had impressive races at an XTERRA Trail Run. Earlier this year, Kaytlynn placed second overall and Heather was third at another XTERRA Texas Trail Run event.
(Heather Welsch photo courtesy Welsch family)
The overall winner of the XTERRA Cameron Park Trail Run was 43-year-old Lon Breitenbach from Austin. He completed the course in 1:21:04.
"I just stuck w the front pack, which slowly deteriorated as the race went on," he said. "Then during the final stretch I put in a surge to drop the remaining runner."
Rowdy Hurst of Waco placed second in 1:22:47, and Greg Rankin from Parker, Texas, was third in 1:27:14.
"It was a fun course, a combination of winding, elevation-changing single track along with a flat straight section along the river," Breitenbach said.
Breitenbach works as a nutrition tech representative for PowerBar, which happens to be a sponsor for XTERRA Trail Run races. "It's important to me that people know that I practice what I preach," he said. "It creates credibility, but also allows me to get to know athletes on a personal basis."
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The XTERRA Cameron Park Trail Run was the fifth, and final, race of the 2012 XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series. Every age-group champion from the overall series standings received a free entry to represent Texas at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship on September 23 at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah.
Special recognition goes to Michael Gates from Waco, Texas, who was the only runner to compete in all five races of the 2012 Texas Trail Run Series. He said he drove as many as 200 miles (one way) to get to some of the races.
"I love to trail run and travel, so XTERRA seemed like the place for me," said Gates, who won the male 30-34 age division for the series.
Here are the 2012 XTERRA Texas Trail Run Series champions:
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